|Synergy is the national peer-reviewed online journal of the Association for the Tutoring Profession published annually in the fall and spring. The primary mission of the journal is to provide an avenue for scholarship and discussion, which furthers the knowledge of learning processes, tutoring practice, and the administration of tutoring services.|
|Editoral: Winning over the Faculty - Amy Cheung|
If asked what my biggest concern is when running an effective tutoring center, my answer would be: getting students through our doors who want to receive tutoring. While I definitely want to spend more time training my student staff, as well as give them more professional development opportunities, it is getting students to actually want to be here that is my biggest issue. To be honest, I would like to think that if we build it, they will come, but I know that is not the most effective way to convince students to use our services. Our job is not for the faint of heart; we must accept our responsibility to adapt to the current population of college students and find new ways to capture their attention. It may be easier to repeat what we did last year or the year before when it comes to marketing, hosting events, methods by which we contact instructors, etc. However, the truth of the matter is that we need to be innovative when it comes to engaging the students, as well as their instructors, in order to get them through the door and into our centers. We need to understand who these students are, their attitudes toward our centers, and their faculty members’ perceptions of the services that we offer. The other part is not being complacent and saying “It is what it is,” but rather making the continual effort to try new things and ways to change attitudes toward and perceptions of tutoring services.
Distraction and Partial Attention - Cora M. Dzubak, Ph.D.
Consider the neurologic processes that are involved in thinking. More than a decade ago, Ratey (2002) described the activities involved in thinking as being: reception, perception, comprehension, storage, manipulation, monitoring, controlling, and responding to a steady stream of incoming sensory data. Now, consider the four stages of memory: sensory register, short term memory, working memory, and long term memory. During much of our daily routines we are subjected to a nearly endless stream of sensory input. Part of the incoming stimulation from the environment is encoded and stored, while other elements are lost; and that is a good thing! “One of the functions of working memory is to prevent some information from being code” (Ratey, 2002, p. 196). Attention and distraction both play major roles in learning, and they can be thought of as being two sides of the same coin. The remainder of this article addresses the issue of what happens to the processes of thinking and learning when impacted by distraction and partial attention.
|Impacts of Gender Within Learning Communities - Kim R. Nolt
The gender of students is one element that brings diversity into college classrooms, but how that diversity impacts teaching and learning is not always clear. This qualitative study utilizes participant observation, document analysis, and the reflexive notes of two female facilitators in order to understand how students responded to English classroom writing assignments and the gendered dynamics of interaction within small heterogeneous and homogenous group discussions in a writing workshop class linked to the English composition class. Two quarters of data were collected regarding student responses from the thirty-seven total participants. Partially transcribed notes from the sole male instructor were also gathered to help evaluate gendered responses. Conclusions revealed females prefer to relate to issues through personal relationships and emotions while males prefer to relate through social norms and logic. The results of this study suggest that teaching methods and teachers’ considerations with regards to classroom gender composition and other stratifying characteristics be considered when developing courses in order to ensure a more equitable education to all students.
Space Matters: The Physical Space of Tutoring - Rebecca Daly Cofer
In the article entitled “Designing Spaces for Effective Learning” (2006), the contributors state, “If we are to foster truly flexible, creative… minds, we need to look more critically at the… learning space designs” (p. 14). The purpose of this article is to begin thinking outside of the box in terms of tutoring theory and practice. Many times, professionals reflect on the practices of tutoring (how one tutors, what he tutors, when he tutors, etc). Yet, the physical space of tutoring is often ignored. The physical space can entail many different elements, including the lighting of the area, the layout and type of furniture, the wall colors, any dividers and many other things. Changing any one of these elements can alter the atmosphere and purpose of one’s tutoring center. During this time of decreasing budgets in higher education, though, changing even one area of your physical tutoring space is not always an easy thing. This article discusses one college’s attempt to alter the physical space of its center, making it a more open and welcoming space; all while doing so on a decreased budget with small, but important changes. In order to really understand the complexity of the physical space of tutoring, one must have a basic knowledge of environment psychology and its connection to the learning environment, which will be the beginning basis of this article. Included is a photographic history of this transformation, which is a critical part of understanding the changes. Readers from many levels of tutoring centers will find this article useful, from peer tutors to administrators. Throughout the article, one will see real-life examples from the author’s center and its changes.